Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Comparing pens: Staedtler Pigment Liner, Uniball Vision, Pigma Micron, Sensei, Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen

I have a lot of pens in my studio and I thought it would be useful to create a comparative chart with them all: Staedtler Pigment Liner, Uniball Vision, Pigma Micron, Pigma Sensei, and Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen.

How do they differ? Each pen has its own characteristics and they also perform differently on different papers. Below you can see pen lines on a watercolor paper and a sketch paper. As the sketch paper is more porous and absorptive, all of these pens feather to some degree. So, it is a matter of finding both a pen and a paper you like to work with!
Staedtler Pigment Liner, Uniball Vision, Pigma Micron, Pigma Sensei, Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Staedtler Pigment Liner, Uniball Vision, Pigma Micron, Pigma Sensei, Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen
nib sizes

© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Uniball Vision roller ball pen (pigment based ink, water resistant, fade resistant, made in Japan)* in fine (0.7 mm) is a favorite of mine, with a slightly thicker, black and glossy line. The micro (0.5 mm) is a thinner version.

Staedtler Pigment Liner (pigment based ink, waterproof, lightfast, made in Germany)* is another favorite, and my go-to pen after Uniball Vision. This is a pen that works well on most papers with little feathering! It comes in a handy case of four (0.1, 0.3, 0.5, and 0.7 mm) that easily tucks in my sketch bag or pocket. In fact, the case itself is so convenient that I use a second case for my Uniball Vision and a pencil! The pen that gets the most mileage is the 0.3 which seems to work for just about everything. One disadvantage is that the line is not quite as black as I would like and another that the pens are quite thin and a bit uncomfortable to hold for a long time. (Uniball Vision is a little thicker and works better for me, but does tend to feather on thinner papers.)
Comparing pens on watercolor paper
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.
Comparing pens on sketch paper
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Sakura Pigma Micron (pigment ink, waterproof, fade resistant, made in Japan)* is a popular pen that comes in many different nib sizes. For wider lines, there is Pigma Graphic and also Pigma Brush. In my experience however, Pigma has more of a tendency to feather than Uniball Vision or Staedtler Pigment Liner (this, of course, is also related to the paper used).

Sakura Pigma Sensei (pigment ink, waterproof, fade resistant, made in Japan)* is a nice addition intended for the manga artist, with four different nib sizes as well as a few chisel points. I like these more than the Microns as they seem to feather less and are more comfortable to hold, but the line width selection does not quite work for me.

Finally, Faber-Castell's Pitt Artist Pen (pigment based ink, water resistant, high light resistance, made in Germany)* comes in many widths, including chisel tip, brush tip, as well as a big brush. The set I have splatters tiny ink drops all over my paper each time I open a pen and I don't know if this is common or if I just happened to get a set loaded with ink! That aside, I do like the pen widths and also that there are a few wider pens included, notably the 1.5. A larger size option is something I miss with Staedtler Pigment Liner. However, just like Pigma Micron, Pitt will feather if the paper is too porous and absorptive.

* This information is taken directly from each pen's website and not from the information on the pens themselves. Several pens are indeed labeled waterproof, lightfast/fade proof, etc., but the websites state water resistant and fade resistant. In my experience, these pens are waterproof, which to me means that you can paint with watercolor over the lines as long as you first give the ink enough time to dry. Be aware that, depending on paper, some pens can take quite a long time to dry, the more sizing, the longer it takes. I have not done any lightfastness tests.

Översättning. Här jämför jag en del av de pennor jag har i min studio: Staedtler Pigment Liner, Uniball Vision, Pigma Micron, Pigma Sensei, and Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen. Deras linjeegenskaper varierar beroende på vilket papper som används. På ett hårt limmat papper tar det lång tid för tuschet att torka, medan linjerna kan sprida sig på ett mer poröst och absorberande papper. Jag testade på ett hårt limmat akvarellpapper och ett poröst skisspapper.

Uniball Vision fine är en av mina favoriter, med en helsvart, blank linje. En annan favorit är Staedtler Pigment Liner i 4-pack som är den enda penna jag använt som sällan sprider sig. Dock är linjerna inte lika svarta som jag skulle önska (men svarta nog) och den är lite obekväm att hålla i då pennorna är tunna. Pigma Micron tenderar att sprida sig mer enligt min erfarenhet och är även den en tunn penna, medan Pigma Sensei verkar sprida sig mindre och pennorna är dessutom lite tjockare. Mina Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pens skvätter tusch varje gång jag tar av korken, men jag vet inte om detta är vanligt eller inte! Dock sprider även de sig om papperet är alltför poröst.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dark watercolors: Perylenes, Indanthrone, and Prussians

My latest obsession is with the Perylene family of watercolors. Let's take a look at these versatile and potent darks, all from Daniel Smith (except one of the Perylene Maroons, which is from Winsor & Newton). I also included Indanthrone Blue and two Prussians in the lineup.
Perylenes, Indanthrone, and Prussians
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Perylene Red

Pigment: PR178
Characteristics: Semi-transparent, staining

Perylene Red is a strong red color that turns softer as it dilutes. A little goes a (very) long way as with all of the Perylenes.

Perylene Maroon

Pigment: PR179
Characteristics: Semi-transparent (DS) / transparent (W&N), staining (both brands)

The W&N Perylene Maroon is a permanent fixture on my palette. It is more red than DS and can be mixed with Permanent Rose for a red color approximating Alizarin Crimson. The DS Perylene Maroon is a maroon that leans toward brown, almost black in full concentration, but much less saturated than W&N and dilutes easily as seen in the chart.

Perylene Violet

Pigment: PV29
Characteristics: Transparent, staining

Another dark, a reddish-brownish violet that is almost black in full concentration, and that turns into a cloudy purple as it dilutes.

Perylene Green

Pigment: PBk31
Characteristics: Semi-transparent, staining

And yet another dark, this time a green, made from a black pigment and indeed almost black in full concentration. This color turns into a cloudy green as it dilutes.

Indanthrone Blue

Pigment: PB60
Characteristics: Transparent, staining

Indanthrone Blue holds its own in this lineup of strong darks, as it, too, is almost black in full concentration and turns into a cloudy blue as it dilutes.

Prussian Blue

Pigment: PB27
Characteristics: Transparent, granulating, staining

Prussian Green

Pigment: PB27, PY35
Characteristics: Semi-transparent, granulating, staining

The Prussians are not quite as dark, but still hold up well in this company. These are also two more natural looking options to Winsor or Phthalo Blue or Green. Note that the Prussians come with a special footnote that states that they are fluctuating colors that fade in the light and recover in the dark! However, I have not used them enough to put this to the test yet.

Översättning. Ett par alternativ till svart är färgerna i perylene-familjen. Perylene maroon, perylene violet och perylene green, alla från Daniel Smith, är nästan svarta i full koncentration, liksom indanthrone blue. W&N har också en perylene maroon, vilken har en permanent plats på min palett. Den är lite rödare än den från DS och kan blandas med permanent rose för en ersättare till alizarin crimson. 

Prussian blue och prussian green är två andra färger som i full koncentration även de är mörka. De är dessutom alternativ till winsor/phtalo blue och green, men kommer med förbehållet att de fluktuerar i färgstyrka med ljus och mörker vilket kan vara bra att känna till.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Comparing W&N and Daniel Smith: Indian Red

How does Winsor & Newton's watercolor Indian Red compare with Daniel Smith's Indian Red? These two colors share the same name and contain the same pigment, but still look different.

Indian Red

Pigment: PR101 (both brands)
Characteristics: Opaque (both brands), granulating (DS)

Comparing Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith watercolors: Indian Red
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

The interesting thing about Indian Red is that it is a red earth color with a purplish cast to it. I find Indian Red a very beautiful color in both of these brands. W&N Indian Red is a very opaque reddish-brown. It is very saturated and tends to dominate mixes, such as the mix with Cobalt Turquoise above. In comparison, DS Indian Red is cooler and bluer, a bit less opaque and easier to dilute. Unless used full strength, it tends to look a bit chalky, also in mixes. In this case, perhaps both mixtures would have benefited from a bit more water!

Översättning. Jag jämförde Winsor & Newtons och Daniel Smiths akvarellfärg indian red. De är tillverkade av samma pigment, PR101, och är båda täckande, men skiljer ändå i kulör och temperatur. W&N är mycket koncentrerad och dominerar färgblandningar, medan DS är en kallare färg som inte är lika koncentrerad.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Comparing W&N and Daniel Smith: Cobalt Turquoise

How does Winsor & Newton's recently reformulated watercolor Cobalt Turquoise compare to Daniel Smith's Cobalt Turquoise? These two colors share the same name, but not the same pigments or characteristics.

Cobalt Turquoise
Pigment: PB28/PB36 (W&N) / PB36 (DS)
Characteristics: Semi-opaque (W&N) / semi-transparent (DS), granulating (both brands)
Comparing Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith watercolors: Cobalt Turquoise
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

W&N recently reformulated their Cobalt Turquoise from the original PB36 to a mix of PB36 and PB28. I have not been able to find out the reason for the switch, but to my eye, the color still looks much the same. However, since I do not have any old tubes left, I cannot tell for certain, especially not how it used to behave when mixed.

When comparing the two brands, using W&N's new and reformulated Cobalt Turquoise, I found it a bluer hue and more opaque and saturated than DS. As you can see in the color mix above, it can hold its own when mixed with Permanent Rose and takes several more steps to dilute. DS Cobalt Turquoise is greener and less opaque. It dilutes quickly and when mixed with Permanent Rose, PR took over the mix.

Översättning. Jag jämförde Winsor & Newtons och Daniel Smiths akvarellfärg cobalt turquoise. Den förra omformulerades nyligen från PB36 till en blanding av PB36 och PB28 medan den senare enbart tillverkas av PB36. W&N är blåare och mer koncentrerad medan DS går mer åt det gröna hållet och inte är lika koncentrerad.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Comparing Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith watercolors: Cobalt Blue, Permanent Rose, Transparent Yellow

What is the difference between some of Winsor & Newton's and Daniel Smith's watercolors? Here I compare Cobalt Blue (PB28), Permanent Rose / Quinacridone Rose (PV19), and Transparent Yellow / Nickel Azo Yellow (PY150).

Cobalt Blue
Pigment: PB28 (both brands)
Characteristics: Semi-transparent, granulating (both brands)

W&N Cobalt Blue is a slightly subdued blue that is fairly weak in mixes. It makes beautiful granulating patterns both on its own and when mixed with other colors and is one of the backbones in my palette. I probably go through these tubes at twice the speed of any other color as it is not a very saturated color! W&N Cobalt Blue is more granulating than DS as evident in the both the green and purple color mixes below. It also has a greener hue than DS, which is slightly redder, brighter, and closer to a primary blue.
Comparing Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Permanent Rose (W&N) / Quinacridone Rose (DS)
Pigment: PV19
Characteristics: Transparent, staining (both brands)

Despite being a brighter and more dominant pigment, PV19 is one of few replacement options for Rose Madder Genuine. I also find that W&N Permanent Rose is a good magenta option for a mixing triad. It is a warmer magenta than DS Quinacridone Rose, which has a bluer hue. This blue hue is evident in mixes, such as the purple DS mix.
Mixing Winsor & Newton and Daniel Smith watercolors
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.

Transparent Yellow (W&N) / Nickel Azo Yellow (DS)
Pigment: PY150
Characteristics: Transparent, staining (both brands)

PY150 is one of a few good replacement pigments for Aureolin Yellow. As it is diluted, it changes in color and temperature from a burnt or brownish yellow over a warm midtone to a slightly cooler yellow. Although both W&N and DS list this yellow as transparent, I find DS Nickel Azo a bit more opaque. DS also has a browner hue, which is evident in mixes. Both the orange and the green DS mixes are duller and more opaque.

Yes, the same color can definitely look different depending on the brand! In this case, the colors look quite similar on their own, but still vary a bit in terms of color temperature and granulation, for example. This is evident in the color mixes. Be aware that pigments used and color characteristics, including lightfastness, may vary between brands, so it is a good idea to look up this information before investing in a new color. In terms of how they handle, I find that Daniel Smith's colors generally are a bit creamier.

Do I have a favorite? Well, I have used Winsor & Newton for many years and particularly like their granulating and textured colors and how these colors, when mixed, can produce the most beautiful, almost shimmering patterns. One color I especially like for this reason is Cobalt Blue. (Note that colors can be textured without being labeled granulating!) That being said, I am also venturing into Daniel Smith territory when it comes to certain new colors as you will see in subsequent posts.

For more color comparisons, read my posts about Cobalt Turquoise, Indian Red, and Perylene Maroon.

Översättning. Vad är det för skillnad mellan akvarellfärger från Winsor & Newton och Daniel Smith? Jag jämför här cobalt blue, permanent rose / quinacridone rose och transparent yellow / nickel azo yellow. 

W&N cobalt blue är en lite dovare och grönare blå färg som ger vackra granuleringar. DS cobalt blue är lite starkare, rödare och mer klarblå och i mina tester så syntes granulering inte lika mycket. W&N permanent rose är en bra basfärg (och trots sin starka färg ett av få alternativ till rose madder genuine) medan DS quinacridone rose är kallare och blåare. W&N transparent yellow är en mörkt gul färg som går över det lejongula mot en kallare gul då den späds ut (och ett bra alternativ till aureolin yellow). DS nickel azo yellow är i jämförelse lite brunare och mer opak. 

Färger från olika tillverkare men med samma namn kan inte bara innehålla olika pigment utan även variera i egenskaper, inklusive ljusbeständighet, så det är värt att kolla upp detta innan man investerar i en ny färg. De färger jag har jämfört ser lika ut vid en första anblick men varierar bland annat i temperatur och granulering. Färgernas karaktärer blir som mest synliga när de blandas med varandra.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Comparing watercolor tubes and pans

Is there a difference between watercolor tubes, pans, and pans made from tube paint? I compared three colors, Winsor & Newton's Cobalt Blue, Permanent Rose, and Transparent Yellow in full pans, full pans that I made from tube paint that I let dry, and tubes. These are my results!

1. What do the colors look like? 
As you can see from my comparative chart, there is no difference between the three. The colors look identical!

Comparing watercolor pans, tube paint in pans, and tubes
© 2016 Anna C./See. Be. Draw.
2. How do they handle?
The main difference lies in how they handle. Pans take more work to re-wet, but I think pans made from tube paint are a bit easier to re-wet. Both benefit from being moistened ahead of time or you will be using vigorous brushwork to soften the paint. Tube paint is already liquid and the only challenge is to dilute it enough so that the color does not become too opaque or concentrated.

Which to choose?
This is up to personal preference. I recommend pans if you paint on a smaller scale and do not use a lot of water or color. Pans are also great for painting on location as a small box filled with your personal favorites is easy to carry with you. I recommend tubes if you paint on a larger scale and use a lot of water or color.

In my art, I use full pans that I fill with tube paint as I prefer the flexibility, speed and customization this gives me. For painting on location, I have a small box with a few full pans and half pans. If I do larger work that need more paint, or work with a lot of water or pouring, then I use paint straight from the tube on a porcelain palette.

How to make your own watercolor pans from tube paint
I purchase empty full pans and squeeze the color directly into the pan from the tube. I do this in two layers and let the first layer dry for a few days before adding the second. To get the paint into the corners and even each layer out, I use one end of a folded out paper clip to stir with! Then I let the pans dry for another few days before I use them. This process takes about a week, so plan ahead!

Översättning. Är det någon skillnad mellan akvarellfärg i kopp/kaka och tub? Jag jämförde ett par olika akvarellfärger från Winsor & Newton i kopp, kopp fylld med tubfärg och tub. Som du kan se av bilden så är det ingen större skillnad mellan dessa tre! 

Den stora skillnaden ligger istället i hur färgen kan hanteras. Akvarellfärg i kopp tar sin tid att mjuka upp och kan vara svår att få riktigt flytande och koncentrerad medan tubfärgen redan är i flytande form. De koppar du fyller själv från tubfärg är lite enligt min erfarenhet lite lättare att mjuka upp än de färdigköpta.

Vad ska man då välja? Jag rekommenderar akvarellfärg i kopp om du målar i mindre skala och inte använder så mycket vatten eller färg. En liten färglåda är också praktisk att ha med om man målar utomhus. Tub rekommenderar jag till större skala, mer vatten och mer färg.